The Headwaters Master Naturalists had a great time at the Cyrus McCormick Research Farm in Raphine on Saturday, March 16! Led by Sandy Greene, Master Naturalists Derek Blyer, Peggy Plass, and myself (Emily Fugate), along with two guests, set off on this unexpectedly cold morning to plant trees along the short but beautiful path on this National Historic Landmark.
The morning had other plans for us, as the keeper of the trees, retired forester Charlie Huppuch, had not arrived, and the stream that runs parallel to the path had flooded over several times during this past wet fall and winter, leaving some muddy spots in need of gravel. We spread a lot of gravel then a bit later in the morning Charlie arrived and we got a chance to plant trees. We planted probably 20 trees including some River Birch and Lilac.
We had a lot of fun along the way, including finding some owl pellets! We at first were not sure if they were someone’s droppings, but after some close investigation (with sticks) we noticed all the little bones inside! It is great to be able to volunteer with people that make it so much fun. Thank you everyone for a nice morning!
For those who have never been, the Cyrus McCormick Farm has been owned by Virginia Tech since 1954, when it was donated to the university from the McCormick family. Some call the McCormick farm the “birthplace of the agricultural revolution” because this was the place where Cyrus McCormick invented the mechanical reaper, a primitive version of the combine.
Today, Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension use the facility for various agricultural research. The late David Fiske was very involved with the management of the property, and his presence is certainly missed there. Visitors are welcome during the spring, summer, and fall, and admission to the grounds is free.
I hope everyone can visit if they get the chance, and they can check out some of the trees we planted as well!
– Emily Fugate, Cohort VI, March 2019